Today was marked as very challenging in the official Via Francigena guide, and that it was. Our full room of seven pilgrims burst into life at 6am to tackle the 35 km from San Quirico to Radicofani, with long stretches of open countryside. Someone’s alarm went off at 4.30am and kept repeating. The joys. A cafe was open by 6am and we poured in for coffee.
We pulsed into beautiful Val D’Orcia and it’s views, passing through Vignoni Alta then Bagno Vignoni, an upmarket village with old fashioned thermal pools pitched for its healing properties. One of the Spanish girls leaned over the side and gave us all splashes of water.
There would be nothing but nature after this unless you take a small detour. So by lunchtime Sylvie and I found each other and veered off the path to Gallina for a panini and acqua frizzante. The rest of the day was long, hard walking. Radicofani is set on a hill and the walk went up and up. A shower of rain left me drenched and I entered the town like a drowned rat as all the locals were coming out of church and having a drink. One of the Spanish girls hitched a lift during the afternoon and so did the German lady towards the end.
At our donativo (donation of generally €10) accommodation, the historical Ospitale dei Santi Pietro e Giacomo, we met another pilgrim, Willy, from Switzerland. We all collected outside in the piazza for dinner, quickly forgetting the arduous task of getting there. Tonight Sylvie and I have the luxury of our own room. Simple pleasures.